Favorite memories of Southwest Airlines

I flew from LAX to San Jose Southwest Airlines yesterday and the napkin that was handed to me with my drink brought back fond memories. From about 1973, after I took George Hilton’s class in transport economics, I became a campaigner for deregulation of airlines. I had a bumper sticker in my briefcase that said:

Deregulate Air Transportation: Ground CAB.

The CAB, of course, stands for the Civil Aeronautics Board.

When I argued for deregulation, Exhibition A was Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) in California and Exhibit B was Texas Southwest Airlines. Both showed how the competition would work to reduce fares for passengers.

When I was a summer intern at the Council of Economic Advisers under Herb Stein in 1973, Herb made me an acting senior economist for the months between the departure of Bob Tollison and the arrival of his successor, Alan Pulsifer. I was attending a meeting on airline deregulation with the Under Secretary of Transport. After I reported to one of these meetings, Herb suggested that we drop the issue because it seemed hopeless and that our limited resources would be better used elsewhere. I argued that we should keep it because it uses only a few hours of my week per week. I actually persuaded him. I’m still proud of it.

To learn more about airline deregulation, see David R. Henderson, Alfred E. Ear, see “Airline Deregulation”. A Brief Encyclopedia of Economics1st edition and Fred L. Smith, Jr. and Braden Cox, David R. “Airline deregulation” in Henderson, ed., A Brief Encyclopedia of Economics2nd edition.

Note: Tollison’s link contains incorrect information. He was a senior economist from 1972 to 1973, not from 1971 to 1972.

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